Borden Reading And Writing Tutoring
Today a professional writer, translator and artist, I have previously worked as an Associate Professor of literature and Departmental Head Tutor at Harvard University, where I received the Levenson Prize for outstanding undergraduate teaching. I have also taught literature and language at Columbia University.
I am the author of three books, one a scholarly examination of Soviet Russian literary influence and politics, the others literary translations for which I acted as both editor and translator. All three were published by a prestigious university press. I have also published numerous scholarly and popular articles, theatre and book reviews and literary translations in journals, magazines, newspapers and books.
As a creative writer, I have recently completed a novel and am now working on a memoir. I have served as an editor of the Ulbandus Review, a Russian literary journal, and have assisted countless college undergraduate and graduate students in critical reading and analytical writing. I have been widely recognized as a friendly, energetic, enthusiastic and creative teacher.
I am now available to tutor students of all ages in their reading and writing skills. I am happy to assist in editing student compositions at all levels, and to help in developing and writing college entrance essays. I am also available to advise and edit graduate theses and dissertations, and to help prepare students for standardized tests such as the SAT, GRE and TOEFL.
I am forward to working with you!
I have always enjoyed teaching. It inspires me. And I love working with students of all ages, even young children, such as my own.
I especially enjoy sharing my lifelong infatuation with world literatures and the English language, a fascination that extends to every aspect of verbal expression, from the delights of grammar and word derivation to literary inspiration, history, theory, the act of expository and creative composition, editing, publishing and the great pleasures to be won through the employment of both well-developed writing skills and close critical reading.
I think you will find my enthusiasm infectious.
Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
For reading, I will begin by introducing a select few age-appropriate, or ability-appropriate, texts for the student to read out loud, first, and then to herself. After gaining a preliminary understanding of the student's strengths and weaknesses, I will offer a broad introduction to the work that we shall be doing together and our goals and methods of achieving them. Then I will launch directly into reading a series of short texts that offer clear examples of items for instruction and improvement. I will, by and large, apply a Socratic teaching approach, gently leading the student to understanding by asking leading questions. The student will then repeat the process and solidify her grasp of the pertinent issues involved in the first text by examining a second text with similar grammatical, lexical or structural features. Then, even as we move on to new challenges and matters of interest, we will return again and again, if only briefly, to all our previous readings and review the lessons they have taught us
For younger students, I will occasionally introduce entertaining exercises and games that illustrate specific issues in reading, including such keys to comprehension as matters of perspective, context, emphasis, and sentence and paragraph structure. We will explore all the basic requirements that confront good readers, from questions of interpretation to authorial intent, tone and the techniques writers employ for achieving their aims. Spelling, pronunciation and other questions will, of course, be covered as needed.
For advanced writing students, I will present different models of successful written communication: different genres, narrative strategies, methods of argument and persuasion, and helpful tools for clear, coherent, and attractive writing, from the employment of metaphors and outside references to the placement of readers' signposts, signals that indicate an author's intended aims, his attitudes to his subjects, his expectations of readers, via irony, say, or inference, and his changes in narrative direction. We shall then attempt to compose a similar type of prose and discuss its successful and inadequate components by question and answer, closely identifying the nuances involved in the specific high and low points of their compistions. I will also introduce practice writing exams that imitate those found on standardized texts, models for high school and college term papers and for designing and writing admissions essays.
For younger or less advanced students, I will assign simple themes for short compositions and, by asking gentle and encouraging questions, lead the student toward recognizing on his own how his writing sample might be improved. This would often involve writing alternate versions of the same composition and weighing their respective plusses and minuses, before moving on to tackle new themes. I would also, of course, explore matters involving the acquisition of, and comfort with, a richer writing vocabulary, sounder grammar and an expanding range of sentence structures and styles.
Preparing students for the verbal aspects of standardized tests will involve much practice testing through example, accompanied by discussions of recurring problems and a focus on improving weaknesses. Reading prep will focus on the exploration of many short texts of various genres, subjects, historical periods, narrative strategies and stylistic techniques, along with exposure to the many "tricks" employed by good readers, as developed during my years as a university professor and tutor. Vocabulary enrichment always involves active reading--always accompanied by trips to the dictionary--over a large span of time. But there do exist teachable methods by which a student may more successfully ascertain, learn or, in exam situations, guess what a given word means. I have developed my own strategies for introducing such tools for vocabulary building. Instruction will involve a great deal of give-and-take discussion, by which I shall lead the student to his own understanding of how textual matters work. I will always strive to be a friendly and enjoyable partner in learning. I will tailor lessons to each students' individual requirements, and seek to find means through which I can reach individual students on their own terms.
Analytical writing tutoring will involve, again, exploring a wide variety of model texts, covering many different narrative approaches, subjects and genres, and focusing on ways by which each individual may learn to compose the clear, crisp, cogent and compelling texts that examiners reward most. I will share some of my own writing experiences, and some of my own published work, to engage the student more intimately in the strategies, aims, techniques, satisfactions and pitfalls of expository writing. And, again, I will always aim to make our mutual critiques of a student's work, as it progresses, an engaging, even enjoyable adventure.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
For more than ten years I taught language and literature at Columbia and Harvard universities. My work in language involved directing the development of excercises for classroom teachers, including myself, to most effectively and enjoyably introduce students to language acquisition n matters ranging from vocabulary building to exploring then principles of basic grammar, inflection and syntax. At Columbia, I taught a first-year foreign language class for three years, learning methodology along the way from languages teachers working in different linguistic cultures, including English. I also served as director of one of Columbia's summer language practicums.
In literature, as both a professor and a departmental Head Tutor, I lectured and led classroom discussions and tutorials on the skills involved in close, rich, deeply informed and nuanced readings of literature. Although my principle focus as a professor has been Russian literature, most often taught in English translation, I have enjoyed many opportunites to incorporate complementary works from other literary cultures, both European and American, into my classes. I have conducted a lifelong love affair with American and English literature, and am eager to share my knowledge with students. Most of all, I feel much pride in my success in developing many skillful readers and writers at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and I look forward to doing the same with younger and less-advanced students.
At Harvard I also gained a great deal of experience as a writing teacher, especially as a tutor and advisor working on student term papers and honors theses and on doctoral dissertations. As a writer, translator and editor myself, I am well positioned to share my own experience of the literary world and the writing processes involved in working in various genres and designing works with different audiences in mind.
I am an energetic, engaged and fun teacher, as testified by my prize for being selected as the outstanding teacher among junior faculty members at Harvard.
And, not so incidentally, I have truly been blessed by the experience of tutoring my own young children in developing their reading and writing skills.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
If there are some expectations of a long-term arrangement, I will offer a discount on the first two tutoring essions while we determine if we make a good tutor/student match.